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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors, written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by David Parkins. Candlewick, Random House, 2007. $21.00 ages 5 and up

"He hightails it out the door like a chicken at a fox convention. Aunt Nancy watches him down the road, till he's no bigger than a dust ball.
"Come on out, cat," she calls to Ezekiel, behind the woodshed. "With this bone
in my leg and this breath in my chest and all those brains in my head today, I can't
think of but one thing to do."

If I were going to have unwelcome visitors, I would want to take a lesson from Aunt Nancy, or have her visiting with me at their arrival. She is sharp, feisty and thinks on her feet very quickly. In this series of four stories she opens the door to four unwelcome guests...Old Man Trouble, Cousin Lazybones, Old Woeful and Mister Death. The language and rhythm of the four tales had my spirits rising and me wishing that I could read them aloud to a classroom of keen listeners. I am not sure I could get the accent right, but it would be worth a try! I would be adking my friend Don to come along for the read; and maybe he could take over, since he is great with accents, and the dramatic bent needed to do them justice. It takes some practice.

What a feast for the ears...and they have a lesson to teach as well. It would be fun to do a character study of Aunt Nancy when the reading is done and the discussion ramps up. She is admirable for her tenacity and cunning when dealing with these most 'bothersome' men.

The striking silhouette illustrations that accompany the story are the perfect touch, adding elegance and spirit to the reading. There is a real sense of character as you watch the antics that David Parkins creates in seemingly simple black and white lines.

Let's let Aunt Nancy have the final say:

"Doggone it, Aunt Nancy," snaps Mister Death. "I'm never coming near you again as long as I live."

"Suits me fine," says Aunt Nancy, and off she heads to feed Ezekiel his supper.

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